In an interview with a German paper, the deputy head of the OSCE's mission in Ukraine has said his observers are being hindered in their work. This comes amid the latest spike in Ukraine violence.
The deputy chief monitor of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Ukraine monitoring mission, Alexander Hug, has said in an interview with Germany's "Die Welt" newspaper published on Wednesday that both sides of the Ukraine conflict are making it difficult for the OSCE to complete its work.
Responding to question about the increase in violence in recent days despite an official ceasefire, Hug said "we are having big problems getting to the main areas where it is taking place," adding that "both sides are massively hindering us, especially the rebels."
The conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has been going on since April 2014. A ceasefire agreement implemented in February has always been shaky at best and threatens to deteriorate further after nine deaths in a single day were recorded Tuesday – the highest single-day death toll in over a month.
In describing the challenges the OSCE faces in eastern Ukraine, Hug said the rebels and government troops are denying the civilian observers access to certain areas or preventing them from passing through checkpoints. He said armed individuals also behave aggressively at checkpoints.
"We don't have any other choice but to send our civilian observers back to their bases," he told "Die Welt."
Hug also said there were new areas of fighting that "did not exist three or four months ago."
In light of the recent spike in violence and the concern that the ceasefire agreement could crumble completely, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on Tuesday that there would be a meeting between French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Berlin on Monday.
"We have to stop the military operations, achieve a withdrawal of weapons and end attacks on the OSCE observers," Fabius said.
mz/jil (dpa, Reuters)